Questions Of Cash: 'Dodgy website left me tearing my hair out'

Q. In March I purchased some hair straighteners for £56.99 from what appeared to be a legitimate UK website, using my Santander Zero credit card. I then received a PayPal receipt, even though I had not used PayPal to make the payment and this credit card is not registered on my PayPal account.

I became suspicious and quickly telephoned Santander to inform them of my concerns. I was advised there was nothing they could do until the transaction appeared on my account, which could take up to three days.

I emailed the seller to advise that I thought the goods might be counterfeit and not to send the goods. I never received a response and the website disappeared. I called Santander again and was advised that as the purchase was made via PayPal I had to take the issue up with them. PayPal advised me that if I did not receive the goods I could open a case with their resolution centre, but then advised me that I could not open a case with them as the goods were not purchased through eBay and I had no transactions on my account.

When I did receive the goods I found they were a product discontinued a year before and I suspect were counterfeit. I returned the goods at my own expense, but Santander has refused to refund the cost and insists I must follow the PayPal refund procedure. As I rejected the goods I have not paid for them on my Visa account – and when I went to use the card the transaction was declined.

Santander insists I pay its minimum charge of £9.78 before I can use the card again. With interest and late payment charges, the amount is now £72.72. LT, by email

A. A spokeswoman for Santander says: "Having had the opportunity to review [the reader's] complaint, we have arranged to reimburse the amount of £52.99 to her Santander Credit Card. The reason her dispute was originally declined was due to a misunderstanding on our part.

In cases where a customer has a PayPal account, and the transaction is related to that account, we refer the customers directly to PayPal to register their dispute. This is because PayPal have a very robust disputes process and it is unusual for us to have to become involved. However, in this case, it was not [the reader] that had used PayPal, it was the seller: so, under the circumstances, we have arranged to reimburse."

Q. I asked Barclays to transfer £3,000 from a savings account to my Nationwide ISA. The money went missing and ended up in someone else's account at Nationwide. Neither bank will help me get the money transferred to my account, although Nationwide knows it is my money. JS, by email.

A. Your instruction to Barclays used Nationwide's passbook number instead of the account number. This caused Barclays to transfer the money to the wrong Nationwide customer.

Banks and building societies repeatedly tell us that in these circumstances they are not permitted to transfer the money out of the receiving customer's account without that customer's approval – however obvious it is that a mistake has been made.

As we have stressed in the past, it is absolutely essential when making internet or telephone transactions to be completely certain that you use the correct account information. We contacted both Barclays and Nationwide on your behalf. Both said they had acted correctly and there was nothing further they could do.

Happily this was not the end of the story. Nationwide has now located the funds, obtained agreement to remove them from the wrong account and refunded you with the lost £3,000.

Q. In April I went to my Barclays branch to discuss moving money into an account that paid a better rate of interest. The bank advised me to open another ISA after the new tax year started. I believe that I explained that I already had an ISA, into which money was being paid monthly by standing order.

In May I visited the branch again to open the new ISA: at no time was I informed that if I had money going into my existing ISA I would not be allowed another ISA in the new tax year.

But in May I was informed by Barclays that my ISA was not allowed because money had gone into my existing ISA. I think this is unfair because I must now wait another year before I can open a new ISA. DH, Northamptonshire.

A. Barclays has investigated your complaint and rejected it. It says that when you returned to the branch after the ISA was cancelled that you were asked why you had not informed the bank that you already had an ISA and that you were unable to offer any explanation.

There are strict rules set by HM Revenue & Customers about making contributions to ISAs. The annual limit is £10,200, of which a maximum of £5,100 can go into a cash ISA. But you are only permitted to contribute to a single cash ISA in any one tax year.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

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